Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Of Import: Punch & Judy

My hero Punch is a deformed, child-murdering, wife-beating sociopath who commits appalling acts of violence & cruelty upon all those around him & escapes with impunity. The terms punchline & slapstick come from the Punch & Judy shows of old. Unlike so many present-day characters, Punch can be taken up by anyone who wants to use him. He is part of our common western culture. Because of this, what might seem like a very simple character is imbued with layers & layers of historical & cultural resonance. Despite having grown up in Oakland, California, i managed to see quite a few Punch & Judy shows. I honestly have no idea how this happened.

"In my opinion the Street Punch is one of those extravagant reliefs from the realities of life which would lose its hold upon the people if it were made moral and instructive. I regard it as quite harmless and as an outrageous joke which no one in existence would think of regarding as an incentive to any kind of action or as a model for any kind of conduct. It is possible, I think, that one secret source of pleasure very generally derived from this performance is the satisfaction the spectator feels in the circumstances that likenesses of men and women can be so knocked about without any pain or suffering." ~Charles Dickens

Punch & Judy & Christmas. My heart is swelling with good thoughts of childhood.


  1. Do you know any (semi?) professional Punch and Judy people around here at all?

  2. I don't think so, this is a hole i hope to fill soon!

  3. They don't make 'em like they used to!

    There's a couple of new guys doing Punch & Judy shows at the Dickens Fair in San Francisco. I had great fun last December swilling cider and sitting on a log watching the puppets beat the shit out of each other. Christmas memories to last a lifetime!

  4. Sitting on a log and drinking cider! Now that's old timey, I'm jealous!

  5. Yah Clint, sounds like a blast. I'll be doing something similar tonight though, sitting outside drinking cheap wine & watching fireworks!